The Leafs traded Phil Kessel yesterday, which is a pretty big deal. And although that figures to be the biggest trade the franchise will make for a very long time, they’ve got some more trades to come in the next little while if the team hopes to really shake up it’s core.
One of the players many expect to be moved in the coming weeks and months is Tyler Bozak. Bozak, of course, was the center for Phil Kessel for almost all of his six seasons in Toronto, and he’s now the longest tenured Maple Leaf on the roster.
And while a Bozak trade may not come this off-season, it appears the Leafs have at least come close to pulling the trigger on a move involving the Leafs center in recent days. According to The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, the Leafs actually turned down a trade offer from another team that would have involved Bozak getting dealt.
Here’s the juicy part of his article:
The Leafs have been getting interest and even offers on Bozak now for
a while, with the inquiring Arizona Coyotes the best fit until they
signed Antoine Vermette.
(One neutral party familiar with what the Leafs were offered for Bozak said they were surprised they hadn’t taken the deal.)
Other main talking points of the article included some discussion on two other core pieces of the Leafs roster – Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul – and the real possibility that like Bozak none of them will be dealt before a new Leafs season starts in early October.
This is interesting stuff, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. We know the team wants to make significant changes and acquire as many young assets as they can, be it prospects or draft picks. Trading away core pieces like Bozak, Phaneuf, and Lupul is the best way of achieving both of those goals.
The problem is, and this was talked about with Phil Kessel too, these players have pretty low value right now. None of them had great seasons and each of them have at least some form of term and money on their deals. And when you consider that many of the teams that may be looking to add to their roster are right up against the salary cap, that means you may have to wait a little bit longer before a deal comes along that you really see as worth it.
I won’t guess too much on who the team that made an offer for Bozak was since we really have no idea. Could it have been the Coyotes before they signed Antoine Vermette? Maybe. Some other teams off the top of my head would be the New Jersey Devils who have plenty of cap space and a real mixed bag at center ice, and the Washington Capitals who have a reasonable amount of cap space and a need for another depth center after Jay Beagle hit the open market yesterday (though Beagle remains unsigned and may still return to Washington). The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are a couple of other teams you could argue are in need of a depth center, but both teams are a lot tighter up against the cap.
Anyways, who can really say if another core piece gets traded this summer. If you’re impatient like me then you sure hope it happens, but it might be more realistic to expect the likes of Bozak, Phaneuf, and Lupul to be back to start next season. As Mirtle himself notes, the Leafs likelihood of finding a deal that makes sense probably increases as time goes by and as the landscape in the NHL begins to shift. The team made some big moves yesterday, and maybe we should start preparing for the possibility that this is the main group moving forward into next season.